New school year offers breakfasts and lunches to students at no cost

A turkey lentil tostada and slaw with cilantro lime sauce.
Meals at Minnesota schools, including Bancroft Elementary School in Minneapolis, are paid for by the state starting this school year.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News 2019

Students in Minnesota are returning to the classroom.   

They’re meeting their new teachers, seeing their friends, and, in many cases, looking forward to that first big break in their day: lunch.

And starting this school year, students across Minnesota will have both breakfast and lunch provided to them at no charge. The program will cost the state of Minnesota close to $400 million in the first two years.

Minnesota is the fourth state in the country to enact a universal meal program for all students at any public or private school that participates in the federal school meal program. Previously, free school lunches and breakfasts were only provided to students whose families met USDA income guidelines.  

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MPR News host Angela Davis talks about what this means for families and kids with Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, an organization advocating to end hunger in Minnesota and a nutrition services director from a school district in Mankato, Minn.

studio picture with Lt. Governor
MPR News host Angela Davis (left) talks with Darcy Stueber, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and Leah Gardner in an MPR News studio in the Kling Public Media Center in St. Paul on Tuesday.
Maja Beckstrom | MPR News


  • Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan is a St. Louis Park, Minn., native, a graduate of St. Louis Park Public Schools and a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe.   

  • Leah Gardner is the policy director at Hunger Solutions, an organization advocating with both state and federal governments to end hunger in Minnesota. 

  • Darcy Stueber is the director of Nutrition Services at Mankato Area Public Schools.

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